“....I gladly err, nor do I wish this error which gives me
Pleasure to be wrested from me while I live.”- Marcus Tullius Cicero
As someone somewhere at some point probably said, you can go broke real quick betting the under on the gullibility of the American people. After all, the American people are the people who elected the people who voted for Prohibition, only to quickly realize that we needed a stiff drink. Americans fell for a Federal holiday celebrating labor. We bought pumpkin spice in products other than pies, where it belongs. We still have the designated hitter! But nothing has ever demonstrated the gullibility of Americans like election 2016.
In one corner are people gullible because they actually think their candidate is what the media portrays her to be: the smartest, most qualified human to ever run for any elected office in any country on any planet in any galaxy. Not only does she care about the people, but she is actually exactly like them. She sends her staffers and confidants emails about yoga and weddings and never about attacks on one of our diplomatic compounds or other classified stuff. She has the ability to fix our healthcare system, even though she had the crap idea that currently has us behind the eight ball herself 25 years ago.
They’re also gullible about her political opponents. It’s easy to fall for the idea that the only possible reason to oppose her is that she’s female when being female is really the only thing she’s got going for her, but most of us actually oppose her on policy grounds. Her being a woman has exactly zero to do with it, although opposing the odiousness of her character is a nice bonus to the policy reasons. In fairness to her supporters, she has spent decades using the “they hate me because I’m a woman” angle, so maybe they’re not so much gullible as suffering from some sort of Big Lie syndrome.
The other side’s true believers are at least as bad. They actually think that even though voting procedures are set at the state level where their party controls the majority of the relevant offices that somehow the other side is capable of an intricate voter fraud scheme. Why do they buy into this absurd notion? Because their guy and his surrogates told them it was so, despite the easily checkable and obvious fact that barring the collusion of literally thousands of people on their side, it’s impossible. The slightly less gullible among them will tell you that what is meant by “rigged” is the media coverage and not actual election fraud, but that’s just them whistling past the graveyard where their incredulity is buried.
The Never Eithers aren’t immune to gullibility. You have to be fairly exploitable to buy into the idea that the best way to fix your party or political movement is to expunge anyone and everyone who had the insolence to do something like vote for their party’s nominee, no matter how unacceptable they personally find that nominee. It’s not as if that would completely destroy any chance of rebuilding a viable opposition force to your political enemies. Come to think of it, it actually sounds like something your political enemies might be actively encourag...nah, that’s tinfoil hat territory, surely.
Where do I fall on the gullibility scale, you ask? The truth is I’m probably more guilty of being fooled than anyone. I thought that for most Americans politics was still somehow a thing apart in our national life: that, while we may differ on how we wish to be governed, there was agreement that we were all interested, at least at the national level, in fundamentally serious and genuine leaders. By this, I mean that we lived with the knowledge that there’s always a chance we could vote for someone who turns out to be a criminal or all around dirtbag, but that most of us wouldn’t vote for someone who we already knew to be a criminal or all around dirtbag.
I truly still thought that two Americans could hold diametrically opposing views on the role of government and recognize that they both honestly and earnestly believe their way was best for the country as a whole: that politics, for most of us, wasn’t just about having more of our guys on the roster than the other team. I still actually believed that there were more than one or two politicians who would do what was right because it was right, regardless of the political ramifications. I still thought that being “American” was more important to most people than being “Democrat” or “Republican.” I honestly was still under the impression that the majority of Americans loved their country more than they loved their government. How’s that for gullible?
Just a gaggle of people from all over who have similar interests and loud opinions mixed with a dose of humor. We met on Twitter.